creating history in badminton
He rode his bicycle from Owitigala near Matugama, to his school C.W.W. Kannangara College situated at the Matugama town. It is the first central school in the island named after Sri Lanka’s Father of Free Education.
The Owitigala boy now lives in Ohio, USA. He has designed and manufactured a much-needed machine that can virtually take the entire badminton world by storm. His name is Mahesh Wijegunawardana.
Mahesh derived great influence from his remarkable parents. His father Richmond Albert Wijegunawardana was someone who was known in the whole country for his new creations in the field of technology. His mother Chitra, an academic and a school principal, was too an exceptional badminton player.
Albert, a Nalandian, was a renowned entrepreneur, technologist, philanthropist, and a great social worker. The first-ever shoe manufacturer in the country under the then popular “Elasto” brand, Albert later started his own aluminium products company named “Duro Products” in the 1940s.
Albert’s expertise and welfare work ranged from agricultural discoveries to tourism. Most of all, he lavishly spent his hard-earned resources for the needy. He built the first main primary schools in Matugama and once donated a three-acre land to build the Matugama Central Bus Depot.
Mahesh’s mother, the first female student of Ananda College, Colombo, is more than a matching partner for Albert. An honours degree holder in Buddhist culture, she helped foster Buddhist education among children. She was one of the chief contributors in founding the school “Owitigala Maha Vidyalaya”. Interestingly though, she was a gifted badminton player.
Mahesh turned out to be a great mix of his parents’ talents, skills, and noble practices. While being a bright student at the Kannangara, he captained the school’s badminton team. He later entered the Ohio State University and studied computer science. He now works as an IT architect in one of the leading companies in the world – Nationwide Financial.
The unquenchable knack for new creations and lifelong love for badminton led Mahesh to design the world’s first-ever badminton shuttle machine – or the “shuttle feeder”. Mahesh made it with the use of digital laser technology.
Mahesh’s shuttle machine can feed the shuttle from various ranges, speed, and arcs. Such a long overdue product for the sport had not come up in its long history, spanning across the late 19th Century, until this man from Matugama made it a reality.
On 24 January, 2019, a grand felicitation ceremony was held at C.W.W. Kannangara Central College, Matugama for one of its proud sons who has now claimed the patent for his creation that could turn the entire badminton world around.
That day also marked another memorable event: the opening of the “Albert and Chitra Memorial Indoor Sports Complex”, which Mahesh presented to his alma mater. Built by his own funds, with the help of the Colombo Branch of the Kannangara Old Boys’ Association, the sports facility will also speak for the future generations the real worth of the earnest pupils of our country’s free education.